Notes on a Vaporware Conlang VIII: Sound Changes, Part 5

Review of Stage IV

The last set of changes saw the Great Palatalization in the course of which also was lost – which basically palatalized everything around it as it merged with *i. This, however, also caused the consonant inventory to look rather tidy again, besides the fact that there is no velar nasal when there are nasals for both the bilabial and the alveolar points of articulation:

MOAbilabialalveolarpalatalvelarglottal
nasals*m*n
*nʲ
plosives*p *b*t *d*k *g
*tʲ *dʲ
taps/flaps*r
fricatives*s *z*ʃ *ʒ*x*h
approximants*w*l*j

The vowel system didn’t change as much as the consonant one, except that there is no , *ɨː anymore, as I said above, reducing the 6-vowel system1 to a 5-vowel one. *uʊ also opened up to *uə, as a complement to *iə.

HeightFrontCentralBack
high*i, *iː
*iə
*u, *uː
*uɪ, *uə
mid*e, *eː*o, *oː
low*a, *aː
*aɪ, *aʊ

Stage IV to Stage V

1. Reduce final vowels:

  • *V → *ə / V $ [–stress] _ #

This change reduces all unstressed final vowels in polysyllabic words to schwa if the stressed syllable is open; diphthongs aren’t affected. Example: *taka*takətak.

2. Apocope of final schwa:

  • *ə → Ø / !V _ #

Subsequently, except in diphthongs (i.e. *iə), lose final schwa. Example: *huta*hutəhut.

3. The Great Monophthongization

  • *iə → iː

This schwa is now lost as well, but the monophthongization continues:

  • *aɪ → eː2
  • *aʊ → oː
  • *uɪ → iː
  • *uə → uː

All diphthongs resolve into long monophthongs, for now even at the end of words. Examples:

  • *dasiə*dasiː*daːsi 〈dāsi〉,
  • *taɪgateːg 〈tēg〉,
  • *rasaʊ*raso:raːso 〈rāso〉,
  • *nuɪganiːg 〈nīg〉,
  • *huənʲhuːnʲ 〈hūņ〉.

4. Further apocope of final syllables:

  • V → Ø / CSON $ [–stress] [–voiced]SON _ #

After two consonants, the final vowel of an unstressed open syllable disappears if the sonority of the first one is higher than that of the second one and the second one is voiceless.3 Some examples:

  • *hanʲtʃihantʃ 〈hanč〉,
  • *rinʲtʲarintʲ 〈rinț〉,
  • *sustasust 〈sust〉,
  • *waspawasp 〈wasp〉.

5. Shorten long monophthongs in last syllable:

  • [+stress] V … [–stress] Vː → [+stress] Vː … [–stress] V

This shortens the long monophthongs from diphthongs in the last syllalbe and transfers the length to the stressed syllable. Don’t create overlong vowels, though. For example:

  • *haːruɪ*haːriːha:ri 〈hāri〉,
  • *nantiə*nantiːnaːnti 〈nānti〉.

6. Reinforce final *h:

  • *h → x / _ #

Example: *gruhi*gruhgrux 〈gruh〉.

7. Fix: Homorganic assimilation:

  • *k, *g → tʲ, dʲ / m, n(ʲ) _
  • *n(ʲ)p, *n(ʲ)b → mp, mb
  • *mt, *md → nt, nd

8. Fix: Straighen out some of the palatalized clusters:

  • *n(ʲ)(t(ʲ))ʃ → ntʃ
  • *n(ʲ)(d(ʲ))ʒ → ndʒ
  • *nʲt(ʲ) → ntʲ
  • *nʲd(ʲ) → ndʲ

Phonemic Inventory for Stage V (present day)

We’re now at the final and current stage. A romanization is given in angular brackets where the letters deviate from the IPA symbols. Note that those commas and cedillas should all be commas, in fact, but fonts handle them inconsistently.

Consonants

There hasn’t been any change in the consonants at all this time around, actually.

MOAbilabialalveolarpalatalvelarglottal
nasalsmn
nʲ 〈ņ〉
plosivesp bt dk g
tʲ 〈ț〉 dʲ 〈d̦〉
taps/flapsr
fricativess zʃ 〈š〉 ʒ 〈ž〉x 〈h〉h
affricatestʃ 〈č〉 dʒ 〈dž〉
approximantswlj

Vowels

Diphthongs were all conflated with the monophthongs, so there’s just this five-vowel system with vowel length now:

HeightFrontCentralBack
highi, iː 〈ī〉u, uː 〈ū〉
mide, eː 〈ē〉o, oː 〈ō〉
lowa, aː 〈ā〉

The list of sample words

Several times before, I mentioned a list of automatically generated words I tested the sound changes with. To give an overview of the respective outcomes of the various stages, I made a Google Doc of it: List of 2,000 Sample Words.

Name of the language

I’m still undecided and to create a self-name, I guess I will have to wait until I worked out some basic things on the language’s or even the proto-language’s adjectives. For now, I guess it might be best to go with a exonym, maybe from Ayeri. However, that name also still needs to be found. Though now that I’m writing this, how about Ikami? I find that a little cheesy, though, for some reason. Or how about Turayi?

  • Added “Turayi” as a possible name. “Hillandic”. I think I like that better.
  1. “T6Cb” according to the classification attempted in the Vowel Systems thread on the ZBB, which says that /i ɨ e a o u/ is typical of many Slavic languages, so at least my result isn’t as weird as I thought it would be.
  2. Originally, I wanted to make this one /aː/, but that doesn’t happen a lot apparently (Southern US English is an example of it, though). /aɪ/ turning into something /e/-like seems way more common.
  3. Originally, I was not deleting final consonants and wanted to contract final CVC syllables as well as doing the change outlined in this section according to this huge table:

    ptksʃhmnl
    1111122488816
    p1!!!!
    t1!!
    1!
    k1!!
    s2(✕)
    ʃ2
    h4
    m8(✕)(✕)(✓)
    n8(✕)(✕)(✓)
    8(✕)(✕)(✕)(✕)(✓)
    l16
    j32
    r64

    This table is supposed to indicate that the possible combinations roughly follow a sonority hierarchy – a sound in a row may only precede the matching one in a column if its index is larger than the other sound’s (“✓”). However, plosives and sibilants are an exception to this (“!”), and even though a combination is theoretically allowed, it might either not be desirable (“(✓)”) or not permissible according to euphony (“(✕)”). Of all these combinations, only *mp, *ns, *nt, *ntʃ, *ntʲ, *sp, *st, *stʲ, *ʃk, *ʃp, *ʃt, *ʃtʲ occur in my sample now, though. Note to self: Make a sister language or dialect that doesn’t delete final consonants and then carries out the originally intended change wholesale, metathesizing CVC and CC combinations to make contraction possible. The reason why I decided to delete final consonants in stage 4 here is that without metathesis, not too many final syllables actually contract. And I like the current result, too.